Oh Iceland, what has happened to you!?
For weeks I’ve been looking forward to this trip. I’d been busy planning which shots to take in various locations, some new, some old favourites, and I was getting excited at the prospect of enjoying the unspoilt nature.
It’s only been three years since I last visited this country, and I’m shocked how much it’s changed in the meantime. Mass tourism has well and truly arrived in Iceland, and trust me, it’s not a good thing. Not for the beautiful landscapes and natural wonders, and not for the people. Places that used to be villages are now large towns, huge hotels are being built in places that were difficult to access in winter not long ago, and while you struggled to find some cute, traditional item to take home as a souvenir years ago, now there’s a store selling cheap and nasty stuff everywhere!
“Leave no trace: take only photographs, leave only footsteps” used to be a good motto for outdoor enthusiasts to live by, but considering the amounts of footsteps left in certain places, especially in the South West and along the South Coast of Iceland, this doesn’t work anymore. Paths that used to be narrow and wild are now wide beaten tracks littered with people and rubbish. Sometimes even worse, they have been paved over to make space to create parking for the countless tour busses and cars, cafes, toilet blocks, tourist information buildings – you name it.
With tourism comes littering, changes in landscapes, rules, regulations and restrictions (because some people apparently lack basic common sense), and charges/entrance fees. This certainly isn’t the Iceland I remember!!
I could go on forever, but I guess you can already tell how frustrated I am after this trip.
Sure, we saw the Aurora Borealis. The Lights were dancing beautifully for us on three separate nights in three different locations, and it was breathtaking. We also came across some lesser known and reasonably quiet spots, which were stunning. But the majority was like an overrun theme park.
As usual though, I came away with several hundred photos, and you’ll find them in the Iceland gallery on the website. I did my very best to portray the country as I want to remember it.